Sirius vs. Regulus: Who Was Really the Better Black?

Sirius and Regulus, two brothers who on the surface appear to be very different in character. But when you examine them closely, it becomes apparent that they are much more alike than we avid Harry Potter readers may have originally imagined. This makes answering the question of who was the better Black surprisingly difficult to answer.

In order to come to a conclusion as to who the “better Black” really is, let’s examine some of the character traits that Rowling promotes as being exemplary throughout the Potter series.

Bravery 

You might belong in Gryffindor,

Where dwell the brave at heart,

Their daring, nerve, and chivalry

Set Gryffindors apart;

From the very first time we read the Sorting Hat’s song, it becomes apparent that bravery is one of the most valuable character traits a witch or wizard could possess. So who is more brave, Regulus or Sirius?

At first glance, Sirius appears to epitomize the ideal of a brave Gryffindor student. He rushes head-first into adventure and danger without pausing to consider his own safety or well-being. Should this behavior really be considered brave, though? Or is it simply recklessness? Sirius acts without thinking through possible ramifications. He doesn’t fear the situations he puts himself in because he doesn’t think about the impact they could have on himself or on those he loves. This type of behavior certainly seems to trend more toward recklessness than true bravery.

Regulus, on the other hand, was a Slytherin. Slytherins are known for being shrewd, cunning, and self-centered. Those are not qualities one would typically associate with a brave individual. However, when Regulus saw first-hand the evil actions committed by Lord Voldemort, he took a stand. He discovered the Dark Lord’s secret. He carefully thought through his plan to steal and destroy one of Voldemort’s Horcruxes. He knew exactly what Voldemort and the Death Eaters were going to do to him when they discovered his disloyalty, but he was willing to take that risk to benefit other people. That is a true act of bravery.

So who is really the braver Black? Hands down, it’s Regulus.

Friendship

Me!” said Hermione. “Books! And cleverness! There are more important things – friendship and bravery and – oh Harry – be careful!

Friendship is another quality that is celebrated throughout the Potter saga. A character’s loyalty to their friends is ultimately rewarded. Just look at the way Ron and Hermione’s loyalty to Harry, despite the life-threatening position that it puts them in, ultimately allows them to defeat the darkest wizard of all time and in the end, allows them to have a happily-ever-after ending. So who is the better friend, Sirius or Regulus?

Sirius was a member of the Order of the Phoenix. He was a loyal Maurader. He was also the person who James and Lily should have ultimately trusted as their Secret-Keeper. He was one of the truest friends a witch or wizard could hope for. He would lay down his life for his friends without a thought. He would have done anything in his power to make Harry safe and happy. Sirius made his decision as to who his real family was when he was very young and was loyal to them until the end.

Regulus’s loyalty on the other hand is questionable at best. At first, it certainly appeared that Regulus was going to be a very loyal member of the Black family. He lived up to family expectations, seemed to hold the same values. He became a Slytherin student and then a Death Eater. However, when it came down to it, he betrayed all of his friends and family members in order to what he felt was right. A noble act certainly, but a loyal one? No.

Which Black is the better friend? Without doubt, Sirius.

Making Good Choices

It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.

They idea that we are not defined by destiny or circumstance is reiterated several times throughout the Potter novels. No matter how the odds are stacked against us, we always have the choice to do the right thing, to be a better person. So between Regulus and Sirius, who ultimately defined themselves by making good choices?

Sirius knew who he was and what he believed in from a very young age. Whether out of courage or rebellion, he stood against the ideals of his family and stood up for what he felt was right. Throughout his youth, throughout the sentence he served in Azkaban, and throughout having to live a life on the run from his own government despite never having done anything wrong, Sirius’s conviction never wavered. Outside of his sometimes bullying nature, Sirius ultimately made the right decisions whenever it mattered.

Regulus was more susceptible to the pressures that came with being a member of the Black family. He went along with the wishes of his parents, mimicked the behaviors of his so-called friends. He even participated with the Death Eaters. That could have possibly included controlling other people, torturing them, even murdering them.However, Regulus did ultimately redeem himself. When it came down to it, Regulus stood against Lord Voldemort and did what he could to ensure that one day, someone would be able to defeat him.

So which Black was better at making good choices? While both Blacks ultimately ended up doing what was right over what was easy, Sirius always made that choice. Sirius was better at making the right choices.

Self Sacrifice

To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.

Willingness to sacrifice oneself in order to protect their loved ones or to stand against evil is something that is viewed as the ultimate act of selflessness in the Harry Potter saga. Both Sirius and Regulus die because of their willingness to sacrifice themselves. So whose death was really more noble?

Sirius dies when he rushes to the aid of Harry and his friends when the enter the Ministry of Magic. Though it can’t be argued that Sirius is excited to be involved that night because he was longing for some action and adventure after being locked away in Grimmauld Place for so long. The real reason he was there was to protect Harry. He could have left Grimmauld Place anytime to seek action and adventure if he really wanted to, but he only did when he knew someone he loved was in danger.

Regulus died at the hands of Lord Voldemort, which was not unexpected for him. He knew what was coming. From the moment Regulus decided to stand against the Dark Lord, he knew what his punishment would be. He was undoubtedly terrified, but he did what he knew to be right anyway. Regulus sacrificed himself in the hopes that one day, when someone else had the ability to vanquish Voldemort, he would have made it easier for them to do so. He sacrificed himself in the hopes that it would save people someday, people whom he didn’t even know.

So whose sacrifice was more noble? While it’s a terribly difficult to choose, it’s Regulus. It certainly takes an incredible amount of courage to die in the place of one’s loved ones, but it takes even more courage to die in the place of strangers.

The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black.

What Regulus Black did should never be underrated. After a lifetime of making all the wrong decisions, he ultimately made the right one. He did something so brave, so selfless, and for the good of people who had been his enemies for his entire life. But Sirius Black, though he certainly had his faults, was the most loyal and loving friend anyone could imagine. He had the strength of character to make all the right decisions from the time he was a child. Again and again, he chose what was right over what was easy. He gave up a life of wealth and pampering, for friendship and goodness. He is the type of godfather that any child would be lucky to have. He is the type of person that we should all aspire to be more like. Ultimately, Sirius is the better Black.

What do you think? Do you agree that Sirius is the better Black? What other character traits would you use to compare the two brothers?

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